Summary ☆ The Big Roads 102

Review ↠ PDF, DOC, TXT, eBook or Kindle ePUB free Õ Earl Swift

A man made wonder a connective network an economic force a bringer of blight and sprawl and the possibility of escape the US interstate system changed the face of our country The Big Roads charts the creation of these essential American highways From the turn of the century car racing entrepreneur who spurred the citizen led “Good Roads” movemen. I geeked out on this book It clears all misconceptions about what I've heard people say about the freeway in their city oh this was the first freeway ever created by Hoover for war transportation Not surprisingly I've heard this from than one person in than one cityFrom when I was a child my father explained to me that even number freeways go eastwest odd number ones go northsouth Ever since then I've been aware of the massiveness of concrete that stretches in every directionThat's what led me to read this book I was intrigued by how the formulas that we're conceived for these roads were put into action From dirt paths created for horses to nowSwift is incredibly detailed extremely well organized on his timeline and best of all entertainingSomething like engineering and politics of the Interbelt system I could imagine being dried out by the wrong writer Swift is perfect for this subject you can hear the passion in his writingHighly recommendedChapter 7 is my fav

Characters The Big Roads

The Big RoadsTieth century American life  How did we get from dirt tracks to expressways from main streets to off ramps from mud to concrete and steel in less than a century Through decades of politics activism and marvels of engineering we recognize in our highways the wanderlust grand scale and conflicting notions of citizenship and progress that define Ameri. This book has a great premise and really should be interesting than it is but the work is sabotaged by the author's own compositional choices I fully admit that I have reached a point in my life as a reader and a writer that I get even cranky about composition than ever but I cannot alienate that part of myself I care too muchThe basic problem of this book is that Earl Swift is not able to pull out any of a number of defined stories from the basic historical material He ends up with what I consider to be the lowest form of historical narrative the basic chronicle where fact follows fact in an unending seuence Oddly reading his book gives me precisely the same monotonous feeling as the worst stretches of the interstates he is telling us aboutI really don't have the time to relate all of the problems with the composition of this book as they would reuire a large amount of space Let me just start with this With a book ostensibly or at least ultimately about what is called erroneously according to Swift the Eisenhower interstate system it takes Swift 185 pages out of 324 to get to where the Congress passes the act that gets that ball rolling Swift fills most of the beginning of the book with antecedents to the highway system not in itself a bad choice but the way he does it pulls away from the basic narrative The author struggles to use these facts to build a coherent narrative about the broader themes of this movement and keeping the story pardon the pun rolling He falls into the trap of spending a great deal of time on the biography of highway engineer William MacDonald rather than in developing a thematic approach to roads generally Swift gets lost in the weeds continually with events succeeding other events purely chronologically a tedious way to go By contrast the works of Winifred Gallagher or Richard R John on the US Post Office or any of the works of Witold Rybczynski shows how it's done see particularly Rybczynski's THE LAST HARVEST for a treatment of suburbia that overlaps a little with Swift's book In other words don't just butt facts together like a dry no mortar stone wall weave them into a storyWhat I would have liked was a much tighter initial section of the book and definitely not 185 pages long focusing on the basic topic itself the development of roads in the US again see Gallagher as she has to discuss roads as part of the mail and working towards the post war highway system Swift makes it clear that the way in which the roads were achieved politically and how they technocratically and literally steamrollered over urban neighborhoods had much to do with the post 1960s disenchantment with engineers and scientific management a view taken up by many on the left and the right with implications today But since this comes in the final 13rd or 34ths of the book it gets what I think is short shrift Had Swift aimed for an 800 page tome on the whole history of the highway system in the US then some of his choices would have been appropriate but he would never have gotten it published as a popular book All stories are about choices and I think that focusing on the interstate which is what he was trying to suggest in the opening pages would have been most appropriate OR he could have told a general story going from dirt road to interstate but I would have broken this up again into three eras the dirt road era the early paved or what the British call metalled road and finally the interstate era This would also have been an appropriate structure and would have had a different but no less valid and interesting trajectoryThe point I am trying to say is that the book needed to be thematic in a correct direction Don't just expect the reader to go from fact to fact The author needs to impose some kind of order some kind of trajectory to the work because otherwise stories become hard to follow Believe me I know just how hard this is and my dissertation advisor was always after me on precisely this point which is in large part why I harp on it so much in turn I have come to see the validity of the argument if not always the way that she and others explain it But like any good movie stageplay or so on there need to be key discernible arcs and waystations so that the reader or viewer can take stock of what has happened and feels progress towards the end I am sorry to be so harsh on this because on the whole Swift's prose style is pretty good He does not talk down to the reader and the majority of sentences are well constructed But I cannot abide what I consider to be a badly organized book This is a fascinating story let it sing

Earl Swift Õ 2 Summary

Summary ☆ The Big Roads 102 ´ A man made wonder a connective network an economic force a bringer of blight and sprawl and the possibility of escape—the US interstate system changed the face of our country The Big Roads charts the creation of these essential American highways From the turn of the century car racing entrepreneur who spurred the citizeT to the handful of driven engineers who conceived of the interstates and how they would work years before President Eisenhower knew the plans existed to the protests that erupted across the nation when highways reached the cities and found people unwilling to be uprooted in the name of progress Swift follows a winding fascinating route through twen. 2015 and Doc Brown was wrong We do need roads Great scott But did you ever wonder where they came from If you thought it had anything to do with Eisenhower you'd be mostly wrong The planning research and groundwork for what would become the Eisenhower interstate system was already well in place when ol' Ike putted his way into the White House In fact he wasn't even aware of its existence So much for thatThis book is about the tireless folks who ARE responsible for the biggest public works project pretty much ever Thomas MacDonald Herbert Fairbank Frank Turner Chances are you've never heard of any of these guys Or any of the men and women involved in the project Or even how it all started going all the way back to daredevil businessman Carl Fisher back at the turn of the centuryIt's uite an amazing story and often very vague as to who you should be rooting for On one hand the various iterations and incarnations of highway planning departments in the government did the bulk of the grunt work and research but there was uite a bit of wrangling drama on the issue of how states and the feds should complement each other in the process Even fascinating is the ruinous effects that the interstate highway system had on our culture a stultifying sameness that guarantees you can get the same shitty McDonald's burger in Needles CA and Mouahukukoum ME That never lets you savor a city or town That keeps you distant and in a simultaneous non rapport with millions of other drivers On the other hand it makes traveling a lot easier Or it didProbably the most engaging bits are about the protests especially Balti which Swift thankfully returns to repeatedly in the last third of the book Irate that cold mechanical planning was going to destroy parts of Balti where gee people lived local activists mostly black at first protested and protested Then the whites got in out too in an amazing show of solidarity that saw white folks applauding militant black volunteer forces ready to take up arms against the Highwaymen And they won mostly dammit the people won So yes the best part of this book is the social aspect how all this affected people's lives uprooted them and so onAnd it's all starting to fall apart too as Swift impatiently reminds usMucho recommendo